What is it?
Mention the Discovery Sport whilst talking to die-hard Land Rover enthusiasts and you’ll get the same response as when the Evoque was first introduced: ‘It’s not a proper Land Rover.' Of course it isn’t a proper Land Rover, the Discovery Sport is more fuel efficient, safer, handles the road better, and is arguably better off road!
Largely based on the Evoque, the Discovery Sport's list of awards resembles the credits at the end of a film, it's won quite a few 'em. Combining good looks (in my opinion anyway) the practicality of a seven-seater and the versatility proper off-roader, the Discovery Sport is already Land Rover's second fastest model.
On the road
As a replacement for the Freelander 2, the Discovery Sport is bigger, far more luxurious and of course has the option of 7 seats. On the road, whatever the surface it felt composed whilst offering you the kind of isolation a far more expensive car does.
The TD4 engine gives it a great turn of speed and according to official figures should've achieved 44.8mpg, I didn’t get to that figure as I was having too much fun. Don’t let the 7 seater, family 4x4 fool you, on twisty roads it can be great fun to drive
This particular Sport has the 2.2-litre 190ps SD4 engine, but in September 2015 it was replaced with an all new, British-built 2ltr, four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine that makes a noticeable difference in all-round performance.
Off the road
Over the week we ventured along rock strewn lanes and wet, grassy fields without any drama. As you’d expect being a Land Rover, it went everywhere I pointed it with only one exception, and a set of more aggressive tyres would have seen to that.
Whilst traversing the rough stuff, the driver of a modern Land Rover doesn’t have much to do except steer, keep the right amount of momentum going and press the Hill Decent Control button occasionally. Having said that, one of my favourite tests these days whilst off roading in a modern 4×4 is to drive as slow as possible, just to see how they cope. Of course the Sport managed everything without any fuss, just as it should, so even momentum isn’t always necessary these days.
To be honest, there isn’t much to write about here, it drove up, down and along some very steep slopes without any drama whatsoever. After the excursion I wasn’t surprised by what the Discovery Sport was capable of, it’s a Land Rover when all said and done, and using their Terrain Response system means it should be better off-road than just about anything else at this price.
Unlike other family orientated SUV’s on the market, the Discovery Sport not only has the working 4x4 credentials, but it isn’t diluted with low slung front spoilers or ridiculously long rear overhangs. The Discovery Sport not only looks like it can handle the rough, it can.
And that was it, I wish I could be more dramatic about the drive, like how the driver and mechanical beast fought hard against the rugged, weather beaten landscape… but the Discovery Sport walked it!
The first thing you notice when you get inside is the quality of, well, everything. Then when you start driving, again, you know you’re in a premium car. What did surprise me however was the limited space I had in the drivers seat, it felt as though the hard plastic centre console was encroaching on my left leg, which I wasn’t happy about. Space for rear seats passengers however was ample and adjustable, even with the drivers seat pushed all the way back to accommodate my lanky legs. Admittedly I never attempted to get into the third row seats, as I expect they’re not meant for 6ft1” 18 stone bald blokes!
Whilst I’m muttering on about seats, although the front seats are comfortable and supportive, I did find them a bit narrow on the base, They're heated and cooled too, which I liked, though Karen Lee wasn’t too impressed, she moaned about having cold air blasted up her nethers.
Engines ‘n’ transmissions
Although a 2ltr diesel will join the range in late 2015, the only engine available at the moment is the 187bhp 2.2ltr 4 cylinder diesel. It comes with either a 6 speed manual or a 9 speed automatic gearbox. I haven’t driven the manual version yet, but I suspect the auto will be the biggest seller, not only because of the more relaxing drive, but the fact that the auto can tow up to 2200kg vs the manuals 2000kg.
I loved it, the Discovery Sport is one very complete family car, with room for up to seven (assuming the two of them are quite small), gives a very calming driving experience and the ability to really tackle the off-road stuff with expert ease. If you want a family 4x4 that isn’t shaped like brick, nor require the ground clearance of a monster truck, the Discovery Sport is the SUV for you.